Tonight is the eve of your first birthday. I rocked you to sleep tonight and snuggled you up in your blanket and put you in bed thinking tomorrow you will be one. I’ve done this before with your siblings, snuck into their room late at night for one more peek, thinking, "Tomorrow you will be __." It seems like I’m always melancholy before a birthday, remembering so many things. Tonight when I rocked you I remembered again the day you were born and remembered our long road before you arrived. I was the skeptical one. I never thought we would have another baby, but here you are. Such a joy.
You came to us when I just seemed to have caught my breath again. When the loss of your sister, Anne Marie, wasn’t the punch in the gut anymore but rather the deep wound, the forever limp that I would have. When we found out you were coming, I discovered what it was like to have deep sadness and great joy all at the same time. When Anne Marie died there were times I didn’t want to get out of bed, days when I just wanted the world to end, nights when I prayed, "Come quickly, Lord. Please, come quickly." And the only thing that got me out of bed on those days were your brothers and sisters and your dad. I don't know what I would have done without them. Thinking of them pulled me up. I had days when I cried for hours, but I also managed to laugh and smile. That was a gift -- your brothers and sisters and your dad. I still had a hole in my heart, but I also had so much to be thankful for.
And then you came and there was even more to be thankful for. Before Anne Marie I think we took for granted healthy babies that came home from the hospital. But when you came we didn’t take anything for granted. We had a gratitude that can only come from loss.
You came to us and brought a joy that we didn’t expect or think we would ever have. But there have also been times when I have had to share my times with you with my memories of Anne Marie. I have rocked you and held you and rubbed your soft skin against my cheek imagining what it would have been like to hold her. I have cupped your little head in my hand and closed my eyes and remembered cupping her little head. There have even been times when I have slipped and said "sweet girl" to you as I rocked you. And sometimes when I am rocking you, I ache that I never was able to rock your sister, and tears start to fall and drip onto your blanket. If you knew all of this I don’t think you would mind. I think that you would be proud. There are no mathematical equations for things like this, but I know that somehow your coming into my life makes me love and miss Anne Marie even more, and her leaving makes me love you and your brothers and sisters even more.
Tomorrow is your birthday, Oliver. When Lincoln gets home from Europe and Lillie gets home from Colorado we will have our party for you and celebrate your first year. I will wish that your big sister, who would be almost three, would be here to help you open all your presents and blow out your candle. I will still have deep sadness missing her, but I will also have great joy. You have been a gift to us, Oliver, and we are forever grateful.